By Akagha Ujunwa
We have treated man as a political animal, we are now treating man as social animal
Man, as a social animal entails that no man is indispensable, no man can live alone and the fact that nature abhors vacuum. We need one another. Wristwatches are useless to the inventor if nobody buys or makes use of them. The inventor on the other hand can only make income from his creation when people patronize his creativity. The gift of speech is useless if there is no one to speak to, and this article would be meaningless if no one reads it after all the time I “wasted” scribbling away.
If one stretches that line of argument, it will also not be wrong to say that ears have no value if no one speaks for the ears to hear. Therefore, we need one another if we are to live in the society and interact with other human beings. There must be that social cohesion, as a matter of fact, our activities are to be regulated to accommodate others, thus we cannot do anything as we like; though existentialistically, you have a choice to make at all times. Philosophers believe that even refusing to choose is a choice made already and whether we like it or not, such choices go with responsibilities. And we cannot refuse to be free since freedom has to do with voluntary actions, which goes with responsibilities as well. We can therefore submit in other words that man is condemned to freedom.
That is why it is said that man is a microcosm in a macrocosm, meaning that we must consider others in our actions. It is wrong to say, I must please myself first, this attitude is a showpiece a person’s selfishness, which is a vice in itself. Again, it is equally wrong for one to say, “he can do whatever one likes in a society one cohabits with other human beings.” That was why proponents of nation building and political leadership in human governance put in place rules and guidelines with appropriate sanctions to certain actions. The government of nations in history have used such oppressive, suppressive, and despotic cohesive powers to punish deviants or culprits depending on what side you stand. That in saner societies, it is a bit difficult to circumvent the law and go impunity scot-free as it is in Nigeria.
Morally certain actions attract social condemnation according to the society’s ethical values. For instance, when a married woman engages in sexual affairs with another man will attract condemnation in Nigeria for instance even though such action may not be criminal. Existentialistically, every action, which is a choice made in exercising one’s freedom goes with responsibility. Some responsibilities however may be a heavy burden at the time it is being made but may grow light in the long run. Consider the sacrifice made to acquire formal education, it demands a lot time, energy and money but becomes a rewarding choice in the long run when one begins to work and reap the benefits of good education.
Therefore, man, as a social animal must consider the interest of others in making decision because no one is an Island – we are made to benefit from one another. When you remember that you are a social animal, it behooves a responsibility on you to consider others in your decision. Remember, you must die one day but your actions today will determine how you will be remembered either for good or bad and this mindset should indeed dissuade from taking decisions that are inimical to the social wellbeing of others. I summarise this discuss therefore by postulating that friendship becomes a necessity as you live as a social animal mainly to do good in the interest of humanism.
*Mr. Akagha S. Ujunwa, a Philosopher, contributed this opinion from Lagos State
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